After my parents were married, they bought themselves a nice house in a small town outside of Johannesburg, where they soon had my brother and me. Growing up, my grandparents on my father's side and my mother were all very open to the possibility of the paranormal being real, so I often heard all sorts of stories about ghosts and learnt about the power of crystals and how to read auras and so on. However, I didn't really think all that much of it when I was young. That is, until the first time I came across what I believe was a ghost.
In this house that my parents bought, there was a really long hallway, which ended in an 'L' shape that led to the rest of the house. In the corner of the 'L' were mine and my brother's rooms, while my parents' room was right at the top of the 'L'. The main bathroom was just a little ways past the middle of the hallway, so if we wanted to go to the bathroom, we'd have to walk most of the way down the hallway to get there.
I remember when we were very young, my brother would come wake me up whenever he needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This was because he didn't want to walk down the hallway alone since the light in the hallway never worked, which meant it was always too dark to see anything. At the time, I didn't know why the light never worked or why it bothered my brother since I never felt unsafe there. Later, I learned that everytime my father replaced the lightbulb in the hallway, it would just go out again within a few hours, and I realized that whenever we walked down the hallway at night, our hair would start rising as if there was static in the air. It always freaked my brother out to see his hair standing on end, while I just thought it looked funny.
Again, despite realizing all of this, I didn't take much notice of it at first. I just thought it was some weird quirk that came with our house. It wasn't until one night when I heard footsteps pacing up and down the hallway, that I fully comprehended that there might be something strange going on. I remember waking up thinking that my dad had gotten up to do something, but when the footsteps just kept going back and forth I got curious, so I got up to see what was going on. I opened my bedroom door and peeked out, ready to ask my dad what on earth he was doing, but I was shocked to find the hallway empty. The footsteps had even stopped once I'd looked out.
When I told my parents about it in the morning, my mum sat me down and explained that there was a ghost living in our house and that it liked to wander up and down the hallway at night. She explained that the ghost was the reason why our hair would always start floating, why the light never worked, and why there were always cracks on the walls no matter how many times they got plastered over. I remember very clearly the look my parents gave me when I told them; "I guess the old man's just lonely." They hadn't known what sort of person the ghost was, only that it was there.
A few months later, my mum came home one day looking very excited before she came in and told us all to gather around. As it turned out, my mum had gone and done some research on the house ever since I'd said it was an old man wandering down our hallway. Apparently, the very first owner of the house was a man whose wife died long before him, leaving him alone in the relatively large house. He had eventually passed away when he was well into his seventies, dying of a heart attack in his sleep, in the room my parents now occupied. I remember she congratulated me on being right, which I thought was strange at the time since I didn't realize that not everyone could tell it was an old man.
This was the first time I ever had any interaction with a ghost, but far from the last. I've lived in at least three haunted houses in my life, where I've come across several of what I believe to be ghosts, though the old man in that first house is still the one I love to talk about the most because (in my opinion) the story of the old man ended on a positive note:
When I was about six or so, my mother's best friend died. The same night that she died there had been a storm, which in South Africa are always a bit wild and usually with plenty of thunder and lightning. I don't personally remember much about the night itself, but I do remember that in the morning the house felt somehow emptier, as if something had gone missing during the storm. After that night with the storm, there were no footsteps, no one's hair would rise when they walked down the hallway, my dad could replace the light without worrying that it would just burst, and the cracks on the wall could be plastered over without trouble.
It is my family's belief that when my mother's best friend died, she came to our house during the storm and she took the old man's spirit with her to wherever she ended up. We believe that she helped him finally move onto somewhere, where he wasn't alone and could reunite with his wife.